The insurance industry is experiencing a major shift in market behavior. Whether this becomes a perfect storm for failure or a new growth opportunity will depend on the insurer’s ability to respond to the sea change. 


In this month’s article in my ACM series, I take a look at a new era of client retention demands and how case management can deliver responsive solutions. To help me do this I invited my colleague and FSI industry expert, Gerry Gibney, to answer some of the top of mind questions for Insurance CIOs.

Gerry Gibney (LinkedIn Profile) is the senior industry strategist for Financial Services at OpenText. In this role, he is responsible for developing strategy and marketing of business solutions that meet the needs of the sector. With over twenty five years of experience in the industry, he has held senior positions with Fiserv Investment Services Group, Microsoft Financial Services Group, and Chase Manhattan Bank. Gerry received his degree in Finance from Lehigh University and has provided solutions throughout his career to leading insurance and banking institutions around the globe.

Deb Miller: Gerry, the latest research shows that insurance companies are moving from a focus on cost-cutting to organic growth strategies, including client acquisition and retention initiatives with a major focus on distribution. What challenges does this present and how are strategic CIOs responding?

Gerry Gibney: Insurance firms are definitely shifting their focus. In fact, that was one of the key findings in the 2013 Capgemini World Insurance report. The challenge is that clients are now more likely to switch insurers, if according to Accenture research, “all services are not available on all access points.” 

The rise of the Internet and mobile technology has changed things in such a way that many customers are just a click away from leaving. As a result, advisors like CEB TowerGroup see the industry placing a higher importance on strategies to unify sales and service channels across access points and products. This is where case management and business process agility can really help, especially to allow CIOs to balance the new demands and orchestrate a customer-centric view.

DM: A customer-centric view seems to be getting increasingly difficult to achieve though given the distribution of insurance products through so many networks -- from direct, to agents, to brokers and alternatives like car dealers and even supermarkets. Multi-distribution expands the potential pool of customers for insurers, but what is required to make it work properly?

GG: Insurers need to integrate their distribution networks with channels (access points) and enable customer-centricity with centralized intelligence. Further, the channels need to be able to facilitate all forms of interaction to enable customers to interact with their insurers, how and when they prefer. That includes face-to-face (at branches or physical points of sale), phone and Internet with PCs, laptops, iPads and especially mobile.

DM: How important is mobile then to a strong client retention strategy?

GG: Though face-to-face still remains the main way of interacting for most insurance customers, Capgemini found that mobile is growing as a channel of choice for a number of customer interactions, particularly on the research and servicing side. As I talk with insurance executives, they do see mobile as important and realize that an effective client retention strategy needs to understand the different ways in which mobile can play a role throughout the insurance value chain. Most important to client retention though is a better understanding of the customer across all channels and interactions.

DM: What are the biggest challenges for insurance CIOs related to better managing customer information for client retention and growth?

GG: Right now there is a lot of information about customers that exist in different systems, as well as unstructured information that perhaps hasn't been properly captured at all. Insurance companies have many legacy applications often in silos with product policy details and documents that all need to be managed in the context of the customer.

At the same time, it’s become harder and harder to keep agents and to do that you need to give them better customer-centric information access. CIOs need to find a way to deal with the unstructured information, organize and govern it, and then make it available in context and in the moment. That is what case management as part of an overall enterprise information management strategy can provide.

DM: Let’s talk about the demands on the CIO for brand building and how to target and get the right message to the right people. If Insurers knew more about customers in context, they might have a better chance of selling them more products. How can case management help with that?

GG: I’ll use myself as an example. I have multiple insurance policies with three of the top-ten insurers in the United States. What amazes me is that it wasn’t until last year that any of them contacted me trying to sell me additional offerings, and then it wasn’t what I would be interested in for my history or demographic.

Enlightened insurance companies are using case management to improve on that. With case management, you see ways to capture relationships that can prove to be tremendously valuable in understanding not only the picture of a client, but a picture of a client’s relationships with other clients and how all that information could be used to give someone a much more useful or complete view, say from the perspective of the policyholder. Case management puts the customer at the center of this, and with the idea that all interactions could be linked to a case that lives long-term.

DM: One of the things that seem critical to effective client retention is the degree to which case management technology can help create this long-term, very intimate understanding of the customer through a relationship that might, in some instances, truly span decades. How does that translate through to better business actions?

GG: So in an ideal world as viewed by an insurance company, a client might buy a life policy at 23 and still have it 45 years later, plus an annuity and a number of other policies. Case management enables the customer and the original policy to live on -- beyond any individual transaction or process -- and enables the relationships with the other policies as well. Further, it provides an improved view via the case construct that can be acted on, whether it’s to improve customer policy and claim servicing, or to market new products better.

DM: What do you mean by the “case construct”?

GG: When we talk about a case construct, what we are really defining is a way for the company to see the customer as a whole person, not as disjointed policy numbers. I’m one person with one set of characteristics and requirements, and anyone in that insurance company has access to that construct as long as, of course, they've got the authorization, qualifications and skills to be able to deal with my issue. The case construct provides actionable insight for that insurance company, providing a view of who I am as an individual, as well as the policies I have.

But really the idea is to also see how I relate to other customers, how I interact with brokers, how I wish to be communicated with and where I am in stage of life. Documents, folders, processes, are all independent of each other and can be acted on, yet at the same time, a case construct pulls together a centralized customer view. Cases include emails, ad hoc notes, tasks, checklists, conversations, case notes, discussions, audit trails and also the interrelationships that other family members may have, including relatives and referrals. This gives you the ability to leverage all that information to serve the customer better.

DM: I can definitely begin to see the ways in which an insurance company CIO could serve the customer better by leveraging case management. Is it just limited to insurance?

GG: I see applicability across the board for the financial services sector. For example, banking and wealth management have great applications for case management. Serving wealthy families around the globe and tracking the profitability, the relationships, what’s been offered to them -- how do you keep tabs on all this kind of activity? Case management is perfect for that.

DM: How about sharing a few case study examples of how insurers are already successfully using case management for customer retention and growth?

GG: One great example I am familiar with is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs based out of New York City. They use the whole case folder construct but started their implementation with claims processing. They do this around the world, and they do it especially in the smaller units or subsidiaries because there they’re starting from a clean slate.

We all know that a claim is the moment of truth for insurance companies and the customer relationship. A quick and fair disposition of the claim can make all the difference in customer loyalty. And, studies show that the earlier a claim is resolved the less costly it is for the insurance company. So this is a case management win-win situation.

Another one I like to talk about is AIA Australia. They insure over 2 million people, which is about 20 percent of the working population in the country. They’ve got on the order of 23 million policies. For AIA, case management is delivering a consolidated 360-degree view of client interactions, cases, processes, content and correspondence across the core back office and customer service -- including information and interactions of all customers, intermediaries (e.g., brokers, agents), and internal customer/policy facing stakeholders. The AIA Group Limited and its subsidiaries comprise the largest independent publicly-listed pan-Asian life insurance group in the world, with a broad footprint spanning 15 markets in Asia Pacific.

DM: These are powerful examples Gerry, thanks for sharing them. What’s the biggest takeaway here?

GG: From the insurance CIO’s perspective, you want your customers to be around for a long time. Once you've spent the money and effort on client acquisition, you've got the client onboard so why not retain and sell them more? You know I think one of my colleagues put it best. He said,

In the past, I’ve been the super glue that’s brought together all the pieces to help the insurance company understand who I am It’s been a very manual effort on my part, and frankly, sometimes quite frustrating. We're finally creating not just a container, but an actual center of gravity in the organization that allows them to stitch together all these various views of me as a customer, and to do it not only in the moment but also over time. The notion of the case makes my life as a customer so much easier."

Editor's Note: To see more from Deb's series on adaptive case management, read Winning the Hearts and Minds of Customers Through Case Management